Cinema is a multimedia art form. It requires a wide range of skills. But that’s not what I mean by “the art of the polymath”.
See, though cinema is usually thought as a visual art form, it involves a great deal of sound, from music to sound effects and sound design. It involves serious writing of course, writing a screenplay is an art form in and of itself with many dimensions. Cinema involves more technology than most art forms. Editing is a complex skill of both technical know-how as well as deep intuition. Capturing the perfect frame is not only about the frame, it’s also about how the camera works, understanding the physics of light and color, sensors and film, file formats.
I spent quite some time thinking the answer to the question “If you had to pick one profession in life, what would it be?”. My answer is cinema, making movies, because it’s the perfect one for a polymath. But not because of the range of skills needed that I mentioned above.
Growing up, I was always curious about everything. My curiosity was so intense it was mostly distracting. Just when I was getting to learn about one thing, I would be drawn to something else. As I got older, studied and ultimately started working, this distractive curiosity turned into an impulse of distress, an uneasy feeling. As one specializes in life, the value of everything you do becomes perceived as relative to your profession. “Does this serve me in my work or am I wasting my time?”.
Cinema is the ultimate slap in the face to this impulse. Are you curious about psychology? You can use it to develop your characters. Are you curious about the philosophy of technology, got room in your next science fiction project. Are you taking a course on music production, you can compose your next film’s score yourself. Are you reading a book on Ottoman history? It’s got a place in a future project. Are you learning to code? Empathy for the character in your next story. Are you taking business courses? It will help you budget and raise money for your productions.
Anything and everything you are curious about in life can be justified as a “business related investment” if cinema is your primary medium of productivity. Life helps cinema, and cinema helps life itself.